Whether it bites, tears, or chews, every tooth in your mouth serves a vital role in helping you digest food, maintain a healthy jaw, and feel good about the appearance of your smile. A single missing tooth can have a profoundly negative impact on your total well-being. Several missing teeth or a completely toothless mouth can create conditions that reduce your enjoyment of life and even your life expectancy.
The Devastating Effects of a Restricted Diet
As you chew, saliva mixes with the food, preparing it for further digestion in the gut. Proper digestion allows your body to draw the maximum amount of mineral, vitamins, and nutrients from the food you eat. If any step in this process is interrupted, the body won’t receive the nutrition it needs. When you have one or more missing teeth, not only are you unable to adequately chew your food, but your food choices decrease as well. Gone are heart-healthy foods, like whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. More and more, you find yourself relying on soft, highly processed (often salt, sugar, and fat laden) foods. As a result, people with missing teeth do not receive adequate nutrition and experience higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
Bye-Bye Bone Health
The alveolar bone, a sac-like bone that surrounds the tooth roots and secures them firmly in place, continually grows and replenishes itself. As the teeth come into contact with each other when you chew and speak, they send signals (in the form of little shocks) through the roots to the bone, stimulating growth and regeneration. When a tooth goes missing, the signals sent to the alveolar bone decrease. The bone begins to diminish and, as several studies have demonstrated, most people experience a 25% decrease in the height, width, and volume of the bone during the first year alone. Weakened jaw bone density prompts the loosening of the surrounding teeth, encouraging further tooth loss. Even the structure of your face changes, as the cheeks collapse inward and the chin takes on a pointed look.
Tooth Loss and Emotional Health
Although we tend to focus on more physical health consequences, missing teeth can also impact your mental and emotional health. People often feel so embarrassed by the appearance of their missing teeth that they seldom smile. To others, they may seem less open, friendly, and approachable. Many people with missing teeth often choose to avoid social situations rather than run the risk of exposing their gapped smiles. Together, these factors contribute to reduced confidence and socialization which, in turn, negatively impact a person’s overall well-being.
About Dr. Marco Cueva
Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is a board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience placing all types of dental implants, including All On Four implant dentures. New patients can schedule an appointment or a consultation with Periodontic Excellence by calling 972-390-9944.